Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Accident

I have written about this before. I don't like to repeat myself, but this time I feel it may be a good idea.

Children are a reflection of what they learn, see, and do. Most of that input has traditionally come from their parents. In the past, books filled in where parents may have left off, followed by the theater and movies. Eventually, TV filled in the holes. Today, the internet and computer games fill in gaps that are not touched on by parents. In touch parents will augment the "teachings" of the latter with their own take of life. A balance is sought. Of course, the child's own DNA plays a part in the interpretation of what is seen, learned, and experienced.

Poor judgment is something that comes naturally to people. We all make bad calls during our time here. Sometimes they are inconsequential, other times there is a price to pay for not thinking things through. Last summer, here in Sturbridge, there was one of those moments. When I last wrote of the incident, I used the word "stupidity". I regret that choice of wording now as it pertained to the injured party. I was misinformed as to how things had actually occurred, and I was wrong not have looked into it further. That is my only mea culpa.

I won't remove that word entirely, it can easily applied to others, nor will I shrug it off to being "in the wrong place at the wrong time". The event was talked about town as just what it was. Children and adults knew what they were attending, and knew that it was on the sly. When it became obvious that those in charge of the event were impaired by alcohol [ CORRECTION: referring to eye witnesses reports that man in charge of lighting fireworks was under the influence of alcohol, and had an open beer in one hand, and dropped the road flare onto a firework causing it to launch horizontally towards the beach. --ed.] it was the duty of those attending to either stop it, set an example, and leave for their own safety. Maybe some did try to stop it. Maybe some did leave, but most stayed, and as a result a person was hurt. Stupidity still plays a role, and from several directions.

Was the injury the result of an illegal event? Of course it was. Was it also the result of an impaired person playing the god of fire? Yep. And, finally, was it the result of those that knew that things were not on the level, and not safe, sticking it out, and exposing themselves and those with them to danger. You guessed it, the answer is yes as well.

So, what's with the Grand Jury? Well, to point blame for one at those responsible, but aren't all those in attendance at an illicit event complicit in the wrong doing?

I think we should just sit tight, and wait for the Grand Jury to do whatever Grand Jury's do.

In the end, this was an accident. A terrible accident. No one would have ever figured that something like this would happen to them, but it did. Could it have been avoided? Well, duh, of course it could have been avoided.

And, what is all the hullabaloo about the Selectmen not sending a card, or contacting the victim after the event to check on him? It was an accident in town, how does the Selectmen become involved? When I took an ambulance ride a few years ago I didn't get a follow-up call from Town Hall. I got a bill. A bill that had been paid by the insurance, but was sent to me to pay again. I fixed it, but that was the only contact I had with the Town Hall. Was I supposed to get a call, or a card?

What about the countless car accidents here in town, falls off ladders, slips on ice, bee stings, sliced fingers, and broken legs that happen to folks here in town? Is the town required to respond to each and every event with a bit of Hallmark and a home visit?

No, I didn't think so. So instead of trying to make the lack of a Hallmark moment a focus during the upcoming town election, move on.

Let's not continue to use someones unfortunate event as fodder for negative pre-election campaigning. It is what it is, and accident, nothing more.


  1. Good call, Walter. Some people will find any excuse to pitch a negative campaign against certain selectmen in Sturbridge. To use an accident such as this to lay blame on selectmen shows a lack of character, and desperation, too. I'm still waiting to see what the "freshmen" selectmen have accomplished for ALL townspeople, not just the select few.

  2. The editor of the Tantasqua Town Common asks why there has been no apology from the Walker Pond residents yet. ( )

    That is for the grand jury to decide if they are responsible, and indict them first. Apologies should be given though, by every parent that brought a child to an illegal fireworks display knowing full well it was illegal and that safety could be an issue since there was no oversight. Massachusetts law dictates that any child injured in any way that is suspicious, or due to negligence, of their caretaker must be reported to DSS. I wonder if the hospital reported this injury since the child was with his Dad at the illegal event. Responsibility comes in order of those responsible.

  3. A political move is certainly what some people are doing! To place blame on Town Hall members for not doing detective work? I see lights on at the police station, has something happened to our police force? The police should question this individual who is publicly stating there is a cover-up since he obviously has inside information. He wants a public outcry of inquiry from the selectmen yet we have not heard a public outcry from Chief Ford? Wouldn't it start with our Chief?

    It think it is disgusting that this individual makes this ACCIDENT a political motive for himself! That is DISGUSTING! The poor family has suffered enough and now he is using them for his political plight! And this person thinks he does "good" for this town?

  4. I just read another blog and I don't understand why the towns selectmen are being singled out as the ones that need to do something about this. I really don't understand it all. Am I missing somehting? Can someone tell me if I ma? I don't want to sound ignorant. I feell that this is a police matter.

  5. I agree with the majority of what the article states but what evidence is there that “those in charge of the event were impaired by alcohol” ?

  6. My error in wording. I have no idea if those in charge of the event were drinking, or not. Doesn't matter. The person lighting the fireworks is the one that was reported by eye witnesses as being under the influence and had an open beer in one hand,and a lit road flare in the other hand. He dropped the road flare onto the fireworks, igniting one that launched horizontally towards the beach. I placed a clarification inside the article, leaving the original wording in place to eliminate confusion.

    My apologies for the error in my wording. --ed.

  7. It seems absurd to waste any more time on this accident. It was a fairly minor episode from which the boy made a good recovery. To have the Grand Jury investigate a "crime" for which the maximum penalty is a $1000.00 fine is the height of stupidity.

    The other blog is basically a right wing sleaze machine. It is a local version of the Swift Boat Veterans group that spread all those lies about Sen. Kerry during the 2004 election. Don't believe anything that he prints. According to him the Democrats can do no right and the Republicans(Blanchard & Garieri) can do no wrong. It is obvious nonsense. His charges though must be answered or else uninformed people will believe them.

  8. So glad this is going to a grand jury. It will take that kind of impartiality to make people realize that the entire Walker Pond community is not responsible, just the guy who caused the accident, and those who arranged it. Of course, this assumes that everyone takes the oath and speaks the truth. The judges will know.

    Once that happens, I hope the nonsensical political piece of this will be evident: to take this accident and turn it into a vendetta against certain selectmen is ridiculous, obviously a sham.

    Maybe we should look closer at everyone who holds a political seat in town, to make sure they pay all apologies publicly to those they have hurt publicly, politically, or accidentally?

    If we did that, it would be standing room only, and the line would trail out of town hall, most certainly down to the post office.


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